From left, Rep. Bruce Anderson, Chief Legislative Author with Khmer Freedom Fighters. (Photo by J. Lee)
By J. Lee
ST. PAUL (April 26, 2012) — The Minnesota legislature passed a Resolution honoring Cambodian veterans who fought in support of the United States in the War in Southeast Asia.
State Rep. Bruce Anderson’s House File 2629 was a Resolution “memorializing Congress and the President of the United States, and legislatures from others states to formally recognize the Khmer Freedom Fighters of Cambodia for supporting and defending the United States military forces during the conflict in Southeast Asian and their continued support and defense of the United States of American and all other free nations of the world.”
The Resolution urged all state legislatures to also recognize the Khmer Freedom Fighters and Cambodians “for their support and defense of the United States military forces, freedom, and democracy in Southeast Asia.”
Veterans of the Khmer Serei and the Khmer National Armed Forces were recognized as defending American democracy and freedoms as “freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of representation and association, human rights, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet according to Hoeun Hach, IKA Board Chair and Director of the Khmer Veterans Project, “Khmer veterans have been living in the shadows” fearful of those who would harm their families. “They have yet to experience what it is to be a true American” and “the Resolution begins to restore the freedoms they have fought and died for.”
Testimonies were given by International Khmer Assembly Executive Director Scott Walker who headed a group of Khmer Freedom Fighters (www.KhmerCon.com), Edward Kong, Veterans Advisor of the Khmer Veterans Project, WO5 Sinuon Sang, Captain Hoeun Jeff Sous, WO 3 Saran Pen, 2nd Lt. Serey Sok, Captain Chhim Ouk, Lt. Col. Ret. Claude Newland, Rustic Forward Air Controller Association President, Ralph Donais, President, United Veterans Legislative Council of MN, Jean Lee, President, Executive Director, Children’s Hope Intl/R & R Family Ctrs and APAHC – the Asian Pacific American Housing Consortium.
Legislators read the Tribute to Soliving Kong, one of 18 Hmong clan leaders who was the Postmaster for House of Representatives 1987-2011.
Senator Mike Parry passed the Resolution out of his Committee on Government Reform, Innovations and Veterans and out of the Senate Chambers. The Resolution passed the House Veterans Services Division but is awaiting a hearing on the House Floor.
People are urged to contact their legislators by phone, email and fax (www.leg.state.mn.us), and request a hearing and passage of the Resolution. Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers and Majority Leader Matt Dean are key leaders in deciding whether to hear it or not by the end of session Monday, April 30.